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Harvard EdCast: Is Public Education Dead?

By Matt Weber on June 24, 2015 11:22 AM

Is the public education system in the United States irretrievably broken? Many would argue yes, says author and professor David Kirp. "If you listen to the critics, public education is dead," says Kirp. "[They say] it's a hopelessly bloated bureaucracy ... and charter schools, vouchers, or at least radically reconstituted public schools are the answer. I argue to the contrary."

In his book, Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of a Great American School System and a Strategy for America's Schools, Kirp finds a example of public schooling done right: a poor school system in one of the poorest communities in the country using old-school strategies that are working, both for its teachers and its students. In Union City, New Jersey, they are ignoring "trendy" reforms and are "building a system of support"  with tools such as strong early childhood and bilingual programs, teacher collaboration, and a common curriculum.

In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Kirp talks about his book, highlights the reasons for Union City's success, and argues that there is a way to rebuild the public education system and close the achievement gap for all students.

About the Harvard EdCast EdCast RSS FeediTunes one-click subscription

The Harvard EdCast is a weekly series of podcasts, available on the Harvard University iTunes U page, that features a 15-20 minute conversation with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Matt Weber, the Harvard EdCast is a space for educational discourse and openness, focusing on the myriad issues and current events related to the field.